BIG birthday present to myself, thanks to FB Stress Redux challenge

Today is the Day 12 of Stress Redux challenge which is about altruism. The first altruism day motivated me to donate my clothes to a charity, and today I decided to make donation a regular part of my life. It was what I've had in mind for a while now but as a grad student, I always procrastinated using low income as an excuse. Today was the best chance to break the excuse. After researching through Charity Navigator I've chosen two nonprofit organizations that look transparent and align with my interest, or I should say align with what I consider the biggest global problems: environment and children support.

Supporting an environmental organization was an easy decision for me, as I'm feeling the impact of climate crisis every year. (So to be fair it's more about benefitting myself than altruism.) I have been keen on reducing waste and cutting back meat consumption recently as small steps at an individual level, and I'm glad I added another action to my list.

I also have thought a lot about the lives of children in poverty these past few days (for an obvious reason if you live in US.) Looking through the list of numerous child support organizations, one memory from college days was brought back all of a sudden... In one international trip about 10 years ago (I won't say where in case it hurts anyone's feeling), I saw tourists throwing bags of chips into the river to watch kids from floating houses swim or row boats to grab them as if they were animals in zoo. I saw many more sad situations there but won't go any further as I know it will end up sounding patronizing. I just want to say that those memories brought about sort of personal attachment to the children there, and the urge for bigger commitment than sending pennies.

Still, it wasn't an easy decision. Sponsoring one child asks for donating $1800 yearly which isn't peanuts living on grad student salary. Justification for spending came in a weird way-- this Saturday is my birthday and I gotta give myself a birthday present! And this makes me happy, so it must be a great present!

Not gonna lie, the "making me happy" part ironically made me question my decision. I wasn't sure if it was an act of real altruism or I just wanted to feel proud of myself. The fact that I chose one-on-one sponsoring so that I could exchange emails with the kid I support and watch her grow also felt hypocritic-- is it really altruism if I want evidence to feel worth? Maybe not, but I ended up convincing myself that in the end, Stress Redux challenge was to reduce stress and it met the goal very well.

I don't know how to conclude this so... Thank you Haley and Candice to construct this challenge and motivate me to take an action! As a person with a number of mental health issues, I've learned many helpful techniques throughoutūüėä